Special to The Sun
Clutch 3-pointers down the stretch by Jill Bryan and Britney Morgan sparked Central Oklahoma to a tough 82-75 triumph over Arkansas-Fort Smith Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
Bryan’s trey from the wing broke a 73-all tie at the 1:57 mark and Morgan drilled her sixth 3-pointer of the game with just 49 seconds left to give the Bronchos an 81-75 lead and seal the deal.
It was the final non-conference game of the season for the Bronchos, who improved to 8-2 with their 17th win in the last 19 home games.
“It looked like we were in pretty good shape a couple of times during the game, but they (UAFS) kept coming back on us,” UCO coach Guy Hardaker said. “Jill and Britney hit a couple of big shots at the end and we’re just glad to get out with a win.”
Morgan hit 6-of-9 long-range shots and scored 18 of her season-high 20 points in the second half to lead the Bronchos. Chelsi Dennis had three treys in an 11-point outing off the bench, while Bryan finished with 10 points, a career-best 11 rebounds and four assists and Courtney Harper had 10 points, five boards and two blocked shots.
UCO made a season-high 12 3-pointers in the contest and limited the Lady Lions to 32 percent shooting (24-of-75) from the field.
The Bronchos jumped out to a big early lead and were up 15-4 just six minutes into the game following a Morgan layup. The lead peaked at 12 (30-18) on Dennis’ baseline drive, but UAFS responded with a 13-3 run to get back in it and UCO led 39-36 at intermission.
The Lady Lions had their first lead of the game at 47-46 early in the second half when Morgan drilled a pair of 3-pointers to fuel an 11-1 spurt that put the Bronchos in front 57-48 with 12:57 left to play.
It was still an eight-point cushion at 61-53 following two McKenzie Solberg free throws at the 8:21 mark — the first foul shots of the game for UCO — before the Lady Lions again rallied.
UAFS finally pulled even at 63-63 and it was deadlocked again at 66 and 68. Alyssa Fuxa made a tough inside bucket with 2:51 remaining to give the Bronchos a 73-70 lead before the Lady Lions tied it one last time on a 3-pointer at 2:16.
Then Bryan came through with her second trey of the game to put UCO on top to stay. Two UAFS free throws made it 76-75 with 1:37 left, but Solberg coaxed in a layup at 1:11 and Morgan followed a Lady Lion miss with her final 3-point dagger.
Savannah Hamilton made one of two free throws with 10 seconds left to finish the scoring.
The Bronchos resume Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play with two home games this week, hosting Missouri Western Thursday and Washburn Saturday.